1. National Geographic: “Tiny Feathery Dinosaur Raises Jurassic Questions

How can we say it’s a bird?

Since last week’s discussion of the feathered fossil Eosinopteryx,1 we have received questions about how we could consider this animal a bird. For instance, a Facebook inquirer responding to Ken Ham’s blog on the same subject questioned our contention that this animal was a bird. Frustrated with the difficulty of obtaining the published research data, he graciously wrote:

I've been a fan of this page for a long time now, maybe a year, maybe two; and generally I agree with you.

But this hand-waving about this being a bird is something I have to speak up on. If you look at the actual fossils, no one could honestly say that this is “just a bird.” It doesn't have the skeletal structure that would allow for extended flapping flight. It's wings are far too short. The forelimbs have claws digits and most of all IT HAS TEETH. What bird has teeth? As someone who has studied avian biology, this blog post is very misleading and very poorly put together. I do hope you reconsider this and look at the data again.

[Another reader suggested: “There is a link in the blog to a much more detailed article News to Note, February 2, 2013 that addresses some of that.”]

[He continues,] I read the entire article, it doesn't come close to addressing any of it. I actually had to look elsewhere to even get the actual data from the original research because it wasn't included.

A blog post by ardent evolutionist P.Z. Myers was somewhat less gracious. Despite evolutionist Michael Zimmerman’s recent plea to avoid “name-calling” in commenting about creationists (which is discussed further in item 5 of today’s column), Myers says that we are “idiots.”2

bird fossil

drawing Is it a bird? Is it a dinosaur? Whatever it is, it clearly has feathers. Like more familiar birds, Eosinopteryx brevipenna has relatively short femurs that appear tucked up into the body (labelled lf and rf in the line drawing) and elongated metatarsal bones (upper parts of the feet, which are labelled rp and lp, for right and left “pes”). Eosinopteryx also resembles previously discovered extinct birds. Despite having feathered wings, like some modern flightless birds, Eosinopteryx's wings do not appear to have been adapted for flight. They are a bit on the short side. Also, the forelimb bones (radius and ulna: rr, ru, lr, and lu) seem aligned in a way that would make successful flight-generating flapping unlikely. Be sure to have a look at the close-up photo of one of Eosinopteryx's feathers at News to Note, February 2, 2013. Image credit: P. Godefroit et al., “Reduced plumage and flight ability of a new Jurassic paravian theropod from China,” Nature Communications (2013) doi:10.1038/ncomms2389 published online 22 January 2013.

A professor of biology, Myers cited the animal’s teeth, wing claws, bony tail, and lack of a bony keel in its chest as proof the animal could not have been a bird. Yet it shares all these characteristics with Archaeopteryx, which until recently was considered even by evolutionists to be a bird.

As Dr. David Menton explains in the creationist text New Answers Book 1, “While there are no living birds with teeth, other fossilized birds such as Hesperornis also had teeth. Some modern birds, such as the ostrich, have fingers on their wings, and the juvenile hoatzin (a South American bird) has well-developed fingers and toes with which it can climb trees.”3

Myers went on to say that Eosinopteryx lacked the “skeletal and muscular structure to allow for extended flapping flight, and the wings are way too short for it to have been an adequate flyer.”2 Yet neither our News to Note item nor Ken Ham’s blog ever suggested Eosinopteryx could fly. In fact, we noted that Eosinopteryx's wingspan was a bit short and that its forelimb bones were relatively short and appeared oriented in a way that would preclude efficient flight-generating flapping. But since when did an animal have to fly to be a bird? We have flightless birds alive today, and they are well-adapted for their earth-bound lifestyles. Yet no one disputes their identity as birds. Some modern flightless birds even have “stubby wings,” unusual feather distribution, and lack bony keels in their chests. Ostriches and kiwis, for instance, have no keel. Cassowaries don’t have pennaceous tail feathers. Kiwi wings are quite puny, and the Galapagos cormorant’s wings are about a third the length it would need to fly.

Examining the photographs and description of Eosinopteryx, we noted that in addition to pennaceous feathers it had some skeletal features consistent with those seen in birds in general—relatively short femurs (upper leg bones) appearing tucked up within the body and elongated metatarsals (upper part of the feet, also known as “tarsometatarsals”), for instance—as well as features seen in extinct birds like Archaeopteryx and especially Anchiornis. The authors themselves noted these features. In fact, Eosinopteryx is so similar to Anchiornis that there was a question whether it was really a new species or just an Anchiornis that was molting when it died. And Anchiornis fossils clearly do contain well-preserved mature pennaceous feathers.

We are not saying that all extinct birds are identical to modern birds. That would be foolish. Some extinct birds (like Archaeopteryx and Anchiornis) differ in that, for instance, they have teeth, wing claws, and have less bone fusion than typical modern adult birds. The lower degree of bone fusion could be a feature of an immature bird, but it may well have simply been characteristic of those birds as adults. (Degree of bone fusion is a feature paleontologists must often rely upon in trying to distinguish young from mature animals in general.)

Archaeopteryx also lacked a bony keel. Whether it had a cartilaginous keel that was not preserved or no keel at all we cannot be certain. Flight muscles could have been attached to its somewhat L-shaped wishbone or to a cartilaginous keel. Either way, mounting evidence suggests that it could fly.

Computer databases classifying birds as dinosaurs—a classification made on the basis of evolutionary presuppositions that birds evolved from dinosaurs and therefore should be considered dinosaurs—were used to re-classify Archaeopteryx as a dinosaur. (Read more about this controversial study that appeared in Nature in 2011 at News to Note, July 30, 2011 and blogs.smithsonianmag.com/dinosaur/2011/08/an-ode-to-archaeopteryx).

Even evolutionary science writer Brian Switek, when discussing Eosinopteryx, commented on the vagaries of whether to call a creature a bird or a dinosaur. Switek wrote:

Does this mean that we should stop calling
Archaeopteryx the earliest known bird? Not necessarily.
'[T]his phylogeny remains only weakly supported,' Godefroit and coauthors caution. . . .
Birds are a special lineage of coelurosaurian dinosaurs. That is a fact. But the details of when and how that transition occurred, not to mention exactly from whom, are still areas of active debate.

As to our Facebook reader's frustration with the difficulty obtaining the original research data, we do sympathize, but that is beyond our control. The data was contained in published copyrighted material that is not freely available to the public. We must purchase the rights to even read the material and certainly cannot republish it on our website beyond the limits of what is permitted under “fair use” copyright laws.

When it comes down to whether to call an animal a bird or a dinosaur, as we noted last week the reclassification of birds as dinosaurs is based on the evolutionary presupposition that they evolved from dinosaurs. And when computerized analysis of anatomical data is conducted in comparison with databases that already consider birds to be dinosaurs, naturally the computer’s answer to “what is it?” is “dinosaur.” Apart from those evolutionary presuppositions, though, extinct birds that happen to have feathers, teeth, wing-claws, and no bony keel remain just another kind of bird. And a bird that probably ran around on the ground because it wasn’t equipped for flight would be considered—apart from evolutionary presuppositions—just an extinct kind of flightless bird.

For more information:

  • Did Dinosaurs Turn Into Birds?
  • The Evolution of Feathers: A Major Problem for Darwinism
  • On the Alleged Dinosaurian Ancestry of Birds
  • News to Note, December 1, 2012 (Turkey Day)
  • News to Note, November 17, 2012 (Bird-mimicking dinosaurs)
  • News to Note, July 28, 2012 (“proto-feathered” dinosaurs)
  • News to Note, July 30, 2011 (oldest bird knocked off its perch)
  • News to Note, October 3, 2009 (Anchiornis)
  • News to Note, April 14, 2012 (“beautiful feathered tyrant”)
  • Scientific American Admits Creationists Hit a Sore Spot
  • New Dinosaur-Bird Link?
  • Yet Another New “Feathered” Dinosaur? (Sinornithosaurus)
  • News to Note, December 3, 2011 (dinosaur cuisine?-Microraptor)
  • News to Note, March 17, 2012 (Microraptor)
  • News to Note, September 24, 2011 (dino-fuzz)
  • Formed to Fly
  • 2. Yahoo: “Neanderthals Died Out Earlier Than Thought” and BBC: “Last-stand Neanderthals queried

    Carbon-dating of Neanderthals in Spain overturns long-held beliefs.

    JaramaThe Jarama VI cave is one of the two Neanderthal sites where investigators found their radiocarbon-dated specimens overturned previous dates and assumptions. The newer dates, however, still suffer from major assumptions that drastically limit their usefulness. The investigators still have no way to objectively calibrate their dates for the distant past. Image credit: JF JORDA PARDO through www.bbc.co.uk

    When did Neanderthals last occupy Spain? Were they there at the same time as modern humans? For two decades evolutionary anthropologists have thought Neanderthals made their last stand in Spain after briefly co-existing there with modern humans. “Much of the evidence that has supported this idea is based on a series of radiocarbon dates, which cluster at around 35,000 years ago,” says Rachel Wood, lead author of a study just published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Our results call all of these results into question.”

    Researchers working with Oxford’s Thomas Higham used ultrafiltration to clean samples of contaminants. “Ultrafiltration removes smaller degraded fragments of proteins and other molecules such as amino acids, allowing us to date the large collagen strands that are nice and intact,” explained Wood.

    Wood says the real surprise “was the enormous difference ultrafiltration dating made. . . . At other sites in Europe, we have seen that this improved method of dating bone makes a difference, making old bones older. However, we do not normally see such consistently large differences.”

    Most of the 215 bones examined from 11 sites in southern Spain did not contain enough collagen to date. Six animal bones found in Neanderthal-associated sediment provided “meaningful results.” One produced dates comparable to those previously obtained, but researchers suspect the artifacts in that region belonged to early modern humans. The other five specimens yielded dates around 10,000 years older than previously thought. For instance, a goat bone from Zafarraya Cave, previously estimated at 33,300 years, was re-dated after ultrafiltration at more than 46,700 years old. Higham says, “Our work suggests that . . . it is unlikely that Neanderthals survived any later in this area than they did elsewhere in mainland Europe.”

    Others disagree. Archaeologist Clive Finlayson of the Gibraltar Museum, says, “Radiocarbon methodology on bone will not resolve the question of the last Neanderthals. What they have done is look at two sites in Iberia where—using my own models—I would never have predicted a late Neanderthal extinction. One is up in the high Meseta of central Spain, at 1,000m or more, with a very harsh climate and the other is in the mountains of Granada—again in a very harsh environment. These climates are so cold and dry, that is where the collagen in the bone has preserved and they have been able to get dates. . . . What I think the method is giving us is a skew, a bias, towards older dates by the very nature of the preservation.” Bone collagen doesn’t preserve well at the warmer sites where Finlayson thinks the last Neanderthals lived. Finlayson’s team has dated charcoal from Neanderthal-occupied Gorham Cave in Gibraltar to about 28,000 years.4

    The researchers’ goal was “to test the reliability of the radiocarbon evidence for late survival of Neanderthals in southern Iberia.”5 Unfortunately, mere elimination of contaminants does not and cannot address the many other assumptions on which dating results are interpreted. Conventional interpretation of radiocarbon dates relies on several assumptions:

    • That the production rate of carbon-14 has always been the same.
    • That, prior to the nuclear age, the atmosphere has always had the same carbon-14 concentration.
    • That the carbon-14 in earth’s biomass has always been in equilibrium with atmospheric carbon-14.

    None of these assumptions holds true. Scientists have found exceptions to them all. For instance, the earth’s magnetic field affects the rate of carbon-14 production in the atmosphere by shielding the earth from cosmic rays that initiate the conversion of nitrogen-14 to carbon-14. Since evidence suggests the earth’s magnetic field was much stronger just a few thousand years ago, the amount of carbon-14 present then would have been much lower. Consequently, radiocarbon-dated artifacts that are really only a few thousand years old yield very much older radiocarbon dates.6

    The researchers note that some values they obtained (three of the five, in fact) were “close to or beyond the limit of the radiocarbon method,” which is about 50,000 years. However, they used a calculation for the supposed background correction based on analyses of detectable carbon-14 in material presumably so old it should not contain any carbon-14 anyway, thus ignoring that the material may in fact be young. Furthermore, the authors of the study point out that other dating methods used on bone are also prone to give unreliable results. They write, “In addition to the uncertainties regarding radiocarbon dates in this period, U-series, electron spin resonance, and amino acid racemisation can be unreliable when dating the open systems of osseous remains.”5

    Finally, the authors recommend that in future, “Unless rigorous pretreatment protocols have been used, radiocarbon dates should be assumed to be inaccurate until proven otherwise in this region.”5

    Commenting on the study, geologist Dr. Andrew Snelling of Answers in Genesis remarks, “But who is to say their rigorous protocol is sufficient to give accurate radiocarbon dates? What objective standard can be used to determine which dates are better or more accurate? It is really only the whim of the researchers. They admit that none of the many methods used are reliable on dating bones.”

    This study illustrates that scientific conclusions considered incontrovertible are often flawed by unsuspected problems and unverifiable assumptions. Furthermore, as Dr. Snelling points out, there is no objective way to actually calibrate any dating methods for this period.

    All the dates obtained for Neanderthal and early modern human occupation of Europe greatly exceed those obtained from biblical history. At best, such dates can only be used in a relative sense. The differing magnetic field and the additional effect of the changes in the earth’s biomass as a result of the global Flood would have made the carbon-14 levels in the world in the years after the Flood (when the Neanderthals lived) impossible to know. We may never know whether Neanderthals and early modern humans coexisted in Europe or were only parts of successive waves of people migrating after the dispersion from the Tower of Babel. But what we do know is that they were all descended from Noah’s family since the global Flood and therefore lived less than 4,500 years ago.

    3. NewScientist: “Bubbles of fat hint at origin of reproduction

    Could a sudsy pond bring forth life?

    Despite the fact that life has never been observed emerging by random natural processes from non-living elements, most evolutionists are confident that it did. Why? Because life obviously exists, so they must explain its existence without God. To that end Jack Szostak’s Origins of Life Initiative pursues the possibilities for the recipe for life from scratch.7 “Bubbles of fat hint at origin of reproduction,” published in the 9 January 2013 issue of New Scientist, presents a current distillation of his work.

    fat bubblesFatty acid molecules, because they each have a polar water-soluble end and a nonpolar insoluble end, tend to naturally aggregate in water to form bubbles. If the bubbles get too big, biochemist Jack Szostak has found, they tend to stretch into tubes. Those tubes are fragile, however, and soon break into smaller bubbles, as shown in this diagram from Szostak’s recent publication in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Instead of adding more fatty acids to feed the bubbles, Szostak has found that evaporating the water they are floating in increases their concentration and is equally effective. Image credit: pubs.acs.org

    Szostak believes the key to explaining abiogenesis—life from non-life—is the fatty acid molecule. Fatty acids are a familiar part of everyday life, being a key component of soaps. On a more nuts-and-bolts level, they are also an integral part of cell membranes. Cell membranes keep the insides of cells confined and protected from whatever is outside of the cells. And cells, of course, are the basic building blocks of life.

    But living cells must be able to make copies of themselves. DNA forms the genetic code of most kinds of cells, providing the blueprint to guide such replication and directing all cellular activities. DNA is phenomenally complicated, so evolutionists need to explain what simpler sort of “instructions” could have sprung into being naturally before DNA or RNA evolved. Szostak believes that fatty acids could answer this need too.

    “Protocells” are the grail for those seeking to explain the origin of life from chemicals. When fatty acids are dissolved in water, they form bubbles. In fact, it is this property of sticking together that makes them such a perfect component for cell membranes. Szostak has long wondered if protocells resembled these fatty bubbles. Fatty bubbles could even replicate themselves, sort of. If he fed more fatty acids to the bubbles, they eventually morphed into fragile tubes that spontaneously broke into new bubbles. Could this be “a crude form of cell division” he wondered?

    The problem for Szostak’s team was explaining how the fatty bubbles could grow and divide on their own. “Concentration-Driven Growth of Model Protocell Membranes,” published in the 30 November 2012 Journal of the American Chemical Society, reports their solution to this conundrum.8 If fatty acid bubbles were floating around in Darwin’s “warm little pond”—not a salty ocean which would break them up—and then some water evaporated, the increasing concentration would have stimulated the spontaneous “protocellular division.”

    Darwin suggested life could have started “in some warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, light, heat, electricity, etcetera present.” And in contrast to the usual modern evolutionary view that life had a marine origin, some evolutionists have returned to the warm little pond in the form of geothermal pools. See News to Note, February 25, 2012 for more about this model, which Szostak favors.

    Evolutionists supporting Szostak’s model for the primordial fatty acid protocell point out that some antibiotic resistant bacteria shed their cell walls (the target of many antibiotics), become blobs, and even morph into tubes before breaking up into daughter cells. Since this process has been observed in the laboratory even when the bacterial genes have been “deleted,” it appears that this “crude form of cell division” is a property of the cell’s membrane. (Not a surprise of course, since cell membranes are primarily composed of fatty acids.)

    So is this plausible? Could life have started this way? No. Scientific claims are supposed to come from observations and experiments, and no scientist has ever observed life randomly emerging from non-living elements. These bubbles of fat could go on aggregating and breaking up forever, in an environment where the water concentration waxed and waned, but that does not make them alive. That does not equip them with the genetic blueprint to produce a real cell or a real multicellular organism that can reproduce.

    Scientists have never observed any mechanism by which living things could spontaneously generate the information to become different, more complex living things. Neither can observable random natural processes explain the origin of any genetic information without a living source.

    Szostak’s work describes the behavior of the fatty acid components of cell membranes, but it does not explain the origin of life. Speculation along those lines is actually quite un-scientific, as abiogenesis violates the basic observable principles of biology.

    The Bible provides God’s eyewitness account of the time, about 6,000 years ago, when He created all things and all life and all biological principles by which they operate. If we want to understand the origin of life, we should look to its Source. If we want to understand how life functions or operates today, that is what operation (experimental) science can discover. But the origin of the first living cell (and all other kinds of biological life) is a historical question that can only be correctly answered on the basis of the testimony of the only eyewitness, the Creator. That testimony is in the Bible.

    4. ScienceDaily: “Evolution Inspires More Efficient Solar Cell Design: Geometric Pattern Maximizes Time Light Is Trapped in Solar Cell

    New solar cell design touted as a product of evolutionary understanding.

    Given dire predictions by TV host Bill Nye9 and others that civilization’s future technological progress is endangered by teaching children to doubt evolution, a headline reading “Evolution Inspires More Efficient Solar Cell Design” at first glance appears to support such a position. But on closer inspection, the reader should quickly see that the new solar cell’s development was not based on evolutionary principles at all.

    solarThe developers of this new solar cell design—that traps and retains photons more efficiently—credit their application of evolutionary principles to their success. A little scrutiny reveals this innovation would be a far better illustration of the process of intelligent design. Image credit: Northwestern University www.sciencedaily.com

    Solar cells capture some of the sun’s virtually limitless supply of clean energy for our use, but current technology is inefficient and expensive. Northwestern University researchers wanted to devise a more efficient solar cell. Their goal was to increase the time photons of light would remain trapped in a solar cell without simply making the solar cell components thicker. The trick was to determine the best combination of materials and design from an almost limitless number of options to achieve that goal.

    Mechanical engineer Cheng Sun, coauthor of the study “Highly Efficient Light-Trapping Structure Design Inspired By Natural Evolution,”10 says, “We wanted to determine the geometry for the scattering layer that would give us optimal performance. But with so many possibilities, it's difficult to know where to start, so we looked to laws of natural selection to guide us.” Co-investigator Wei Chen adds, “Due to the highly nonlinear and irregular behavior of the system, you must use an intelligent approach to find the optimal solution. Our approach is based on the biologically evolutionary process of survival of the fittest.”

    Their computer algorithm sorted through all the possibilities achievable with available design elements and came up with the combination that gave optimal results. This computer software intelligently sorted through combinations to determine by simulated trial and error what would work. The process demonstrated the power of computer technology to evaluate many combinations and options rapidly. But nothing about the process mimics the process of “natural evolution” to which evolutionists attribute the rise of life.

    The computer’s operation was intelligent and purposeful, whereas actual evolution would have to be random and purposeless. The computer was given a pre-determined goal to accomplish, a purposeful end toward which to direct its progress. The researchers also supplied the computer with information—all available design elements. Evolution offers no way to explain the origin of information. Furthermore, the computer was also able to interpret the design elements, an analogy to the way cellular mechanisms can read the information in DNA. But evolution offers no way to encode or decode information. Even if a “code” accidentally evolved, evolution could offer no way to read it.

    Evolutionists consider natural selection to be the engine that drove evolution and mutations to be the source of new information. Mutations damage genetic information or duplicate or rearrange existing genetic information. However, they have never been observed to produce new information. Neither did this computer algorithm come up with any new information. Instead it already “understood” the language of the information provided and simply sorted through the pre-existing information very quickly.

    Thus there is nothing about this project that illustrates molecules-to-man evolution. No randomness. No purposelessness. No natural production of new information from chaos. Those who hear Nye’s rhetoric about the necessity of our children accepting evolution to safeguard our technological futures must be careful to use discernment to avoid being deceived by such poor analogies that seem to credit an evolutionary way of thinking with the advancement of technology. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

    5. Huffington Post: “Evolution Weekend: An Opportunity for Reasoned Debate

    Clergy Letter Project founder inaugurates his “no name-calling” policy by misrepresenting creationists.

    Invoking the name of Darwin who “gave life to the modern theory of evolution” and President Obama for his inaugural declarations that “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle . . . or treat name-calling as reasoned debate,” Clergy Letter Project founder Michael Zimmerman opened his “reasoned debate” with falsehoods. But are we guilty of “name-calling” by pointing out when someone misrepresents what we say?

    It really wouldn’t matter so much if Zimmerman’s falsehoods merely impugned creationists. The problem is that he misrepresents what God’s Word says about salvation and about the only way to God. Zimmerman writes:

    These preachers were (and, unfortunately, still are) asserting that if you “believe in evolution,” you're going to hell. . . .
    They were (and, unfortunately, still are) asserting that Christian religious leaders, in particular, who were fully comfortable with evolutionary theory can't be “true” Christians.

    Since he later mentions the Creation Museum—which he falsely calls a “theme park”—and Answers in Genesis, and its founder Ken Ham, it is clear he is including us in this condemnation. Yet, as Dr. Terry Mortenson, historian of geology and theologian at Answers in Genesis, remarked, “No one at Answers in Genesis or the Institute for Creation Research or the Creation Research Society or other leading creationist organization says anything like Zimmerman claims here. Furthermore, any creationists who might think this are misguided and very uninformed.”

    The Word of God is clear that God's grace available through faith in Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Son of God, is the only way to be reconciled to God. The Bible is also clear that genuine faith in Christ’s shed blood is both necessary and sufficient for salvation. We have never even suggested that the Bible says salvation requires faith in “Christ-plus-six-literal-creation-days-and-a-young-earth.”

    In fact, we have repeatedly said that many truly born-again Christians do believe in evolution, but that in doing so they are terribly inconsistent. They believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, His miracles, His atoning sacrifice for sin, and His bodily resurrection, even though the scientific majority rejects all of this as contrary to science and rational thought.  But they reject all or much of the literal truth of Genesis chapters 1–11 because the scientific majority says those chapters are myth. So, we maintain, while these Christians may indeed believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord, their acceptance of evolution and/or millions of years undermines the reliability and authority of the Word of God that gives them the gospel that they believe.

    Zimmerman, an atheist ironically, founded the Clergy Letter Project to gather religious leaders’ support for teaching evolution in the public schools. Participants include leaders of Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, and Unitarian Universalist groups. Zimmerman writes:

    Each of these [clergy] letters, well-grounded from the core of their respective faith, urges that evolution be taught as a central component of public school science education.

    Creationists are routinely attacked for asking public schools to permit open discussion of the controversial and assumption-based aspects of evolutionary science. We are told that our religious beliefs—which we are not trying to present in the public school classrooms—have no place in public education. Yet Zimmerman openly asks religious leaders to encourage the teaching of evolution on the basis of their religious faith. They are clearly trying to influence public science education on the basis of their own religious beliefs. Would we be guilty of name-calling if we point out the rather obvious hypocrisy of this program?

    Zimmerman’s other brainchild is Evolution Weekend, which will be celebrated this weekend by many religious groups who espouse evolutionary dogma. Dogma is a set of principles believed to be true on the basis of an authority. Christian creationists accept a dogma based on the authority of God’s Word. Those groups celebrating Evolution Weekend, whether Christian or not, are espousing a different dogma. Or are we guilty of name-calling if we point out that evolution is a belief based on the authority of man’s fallible ideas instead of God’s Word?

    Zimmerman says that participants in Evolution Weekend will be having a “reasoned debate” with “no name-calling” in order to “promote a deeper understanding of science by deeply religious individuals.” Yet he roundly condemns Christian creationists, like us, who are busy promoting a deeper understanding of science and the Bible. After all, the scientific method involves drawing conclusions based on testable, repeatable observations and experiments. Historical science deals with our origins. Because there is no possibility of actually making observations in the past or accurately re-creating past conditions in a present-day laboratory, conclusions about origins are necessarily based on what a person believes about the unobservable past and what he allows as a possible explanation of what in the past caused the physical evidence he sees in the present. We, as creationists, base our beliefs about the past on the authority of God’s eyewitness account as presented in the Bible. We encourage children and adults to discern the difference between experimental science and historical science.

    Zimmerman demands creationists “stop attacking science in the name of religion,” but creationists demanding scientific discernment is not attacking science. Perhaps encouraging discernment is attacking “what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Timothy 6:20), however, because we do point out that there is a vast difference between what scientists truly know and what evolutionary scientists only assume. Is it name-calling to point out the difference between actual scientific knowledge and an assumption?

    Zimmerman also writes that creationists like Ken Ham are “opposed to reconciliation.” And if “reconciliation” means surrendering the authority of God’s Word for man’s fallible opinions, then yes, there will be no reconciliation, no matter how many groups gather for Evolution Weekend. Or is it name-calling to point out that we trust what our holy and omniscient God says above what sinful, finite human beings think? And before Zimmerman complains, “sinful” and “finite” are truthfully descriptive of us all, so this is not name-calling either.

    Finally, Zimmerman condemns those “like Ham, who demand that their religion should trump all other religions.” By what standard should we judge the right-ness of a religion? The Word of God is the only standard by which we can judge. The history in God’s Word explains what we see in geology (by telling us about the global Flood) and in biology (in which we see that organisms do indeed reproduce after their kinds). Moreover, Jesus Christ, who by His Resurrection proved His deity (Romans 1:4), declared God’s Word to be true (John 17:17). And Jesus Christ also said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). His close disciple, Peter, said “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). And Paul, one-time persecutor of the Christian church, said, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth” (1 Timothy 2:5–7).

    No “reasoned debate” with those who deny the truth of God’s Word will lead us to abandon the fact that Jesus Christ is the author of our salvation (Hebrews 5:9) and offers through unmerited grace the only way to God. Is this absolutism? Yes. And with no apologies.

    And Don’t Miss . . .

    • The Boy Scouts of America, under pressure from gay rights activists and President Obama, has been reconsidering its position banning homosexuals from being scouts or scout leaders. On Wednesday, under a storm of protest from those opposed to lifting the ban, the organization decided to delay its decision until May. Scouts pledge to be “morally straight.” And over two-thirds of scout troops are affiliated with religious organizations. Many anticipate that if the ban is eventually lifted, there will be a mass exodus of members as many of those affiliated with churches seek alternative youth organizations. And the problem with lifting the ban is not only the obvious issue of allowing pro-homosexual factions to redefine morality. Many favor keeping the ban as a common sense protection designed to create the safest possible environment for children. The United States Supreme Court has already, in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000), affirmed the right of private organizations like the Boy Scouts to exclude those whose views conflict with the organization’s message. What is ultimately at issue, however, is biblical truth, the basis of true morality. Read more about this clash of worldviews in Steve Golden’s in-depth analysis at Will the Boy Scouts Move Their Tents Toward Sodom? and in Ken Ham’s blog.
    • Are our bodies poorly designed? Have you heard that you have evolutionary leftovers that you’d be better off without? Well don’t let this week’s article in the UK’s Daily Mail full of such claims make you wish for a refurbishment just yet! Body parts you’ve heard maligned (and some you probably don’t even know you have) do a lot more for you than you may realize. Get the scoop on them and learn a little more about the wonderful way God designed the human body in yesterday’s lead AiG article, “Organ Recital: A Parade of Presumed Design Flaws Devoid of Truth.”
    • Yesterday’s February 8th edition of the journal Science11 published a study intended to identify the ultimate mammalian ancestor, as the New York Times reports, in a front-page above-the-fold article, “Rat-Size Ancestor Said to Link Man and Beast” In essence, Maureen O’Leary’s research team analyzed a computer database of anatomical features in living and fossilized mammals. From it they manufactured “a hypothetical placental ancestor.”11 They even published pictures of the reconstructed beastie. This is surely evolutionary forensics at its imaginative best. The researchers have given us a picture of what they think a mammalian ancestor would have looked like if molecules-to-man evolution had really happened. But it didn’t. And there is no objective testable scientific support for the evolutionary scenario that the researchers are attempting to analyze. The biblical record and observable biology agree that animals really do reproduce after their kinds and do not evolve into new more complex kinds. Watch this website next week to learn more about their findings and their conclusions.

    For more information: Get Answers

    Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, the New York Times, or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard about it.) And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us. If you didn’t catch last week’s News to Note, why not take a look at it now? See you next week!

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  1. News to Note, February 2, 2013 Back
  2. PZ Myers, “Only a bird,” freethoughtblogs, Pharyngula, February 4, 2013 Back (1) Back (2)
  3. Did Dinosaurs Turn Into Birds? Back
  4. www.nature.com/nature/journal/v443/n7113/full/nature05195.html Back
  5. R. Wood et al., “Radiocarbon dating casts doubt on the late chronology of the Middle to upper Palaeolithic transition in southern Iberia,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, (published online February 4, 2013) www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1207656110 Back (1) Back (2) Back (3)
  6. A Creationist Puzzle Back
  7. origins.harvard.edu/prszostak.html Back
  8. pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/ja310382d Back
  9. Bill Nye’s Crusade for Your Kids and Feedback: Bill Nye and More Back
  10. Chen Wang, et al., “Highly Efficient Light-Trapping Structure Design Inspired By Natural Evolution,” Scientific Reports (2013) DOI: 10.1038/srep01025 Back
  11. M. O’Leary et al., “The Placental Mammal Ancestor and the Post-K-Pg Radiation of Placentals,” Science (8 February 2013) 339: 662–667. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/339/6120/662.full Back (1) Back (2)